When my now-husband and I were dating, I was super embarrassed to bring up anything related to “being a girl.” I avoided the topic as much as I could, but I’ll be honest: There was a time of the month he could tell something was wrong, and he knew why. One day he showed up at my apartment door with a plastic pencil box, the lid emblazoned with a red cross.
“This is your emergency kit,” he said, handing it to me. “It has everything you need to beat PMS.”
I opened the box. It was full to the brim with adhesive heating pads, tea, Midol, and—most importantly—several bars of chocolate. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry (though that could have been hormonally related).
You might not have a boyfriend bestowing a PMS Emergency Kit on you, but you can still beat PMS at its own game. Here are some ideas.
- Plan ahead. Download a period tracker on your phone or keep track in your planner. If you know the date Aunt Flo is coming to visit, you’ll be able to prepare (and won’t wear a white skirt to work on her day of arrival—I speak from experience). You can stock up on anything you need and even make your OWN “emergency kit.” Keep one in your car, your desk at work and at home.
- Eat well. This might seem counterintuitive at a time you want to eat EVERYTHING, but eating nutritious, healthy meals before and after your cycle has a profound effect on how your body deals with the hormonal rush. Refined carbs and sugars can actually make cramping and bloating worse. Try to balance out the sweets with salads, fruits and plenty of protein—and drink lots of water as well.
- Be aware of your emotions. My husband knew—and still knows—exactly what I was hiding, even though I never said a word about PMS. My turbulent attitude was enough to clue him in. If you know you’re going to be cranky, do your best to reschedule events where you need to be around large groups of people. If you can’t avoid it, find ways to alleviate the pain or cheer yourself up beforehand. I almost always had to work in the middle of my cycle, so I would take Midol and wear heating pads under my shirt to keep going. But sometimes the best thing I could do for myself and my coworkers was to take a sick day!
- Treat yourself. I know, I said to eat healthfully, and I stand by that suggestion. But if you’re eating well for most meals, treating yourself to some chocolate (especially dark chocolate) and a movie isn’t so bad! If you have to take a sick day, invite some friends over that evening for a girls’ night. Make a fun time out of a not-so-fun experience and bond with your girlfriends over our mutual once-per-month visitor. Need ideas for some ways to make the most of your unpredictable moods? Have a theme night with your friends! Pick a theme—we would choose a country, such as Ireland or Brazil—and choose a movie, meal and costumes to match it. Then spend the night in celebrating in style—with plenty of sweets.